A coach can be many things to different people. A coach is a teacher, a mentor, and a role model. Sometimes a friend and confidant. Most of all, a coach must be positive. The traits of a positive coach are:
Puts players first. A positive coach wants to win but understands that he/she is first and foremost an educator with the development of his/her players as his/her top priority. He/She understands that children go through developmental stages and uses age-appropriate coaching strategies. The coach values the long-term welfare of the players more than looking good as a coach. The coach avoids the trap of thinking the game is about him/her rather than for players. Where winning is in conflict with the long-term benefit of the children, a positive coach has an unwavering commitment to what is best for the athletes.
Develops character as well as skills. A positive coach uses the crucible of competition as a virtual classroom. The coach seizes upon victory and defeat as teachable moments – opportunities to build on his/her athletes’ self-confidence and positive character traits such as determination, courage, empathy and commitment. The coach wants to win, but even more, wants to transmit lessons that will carry over into the rest of the athletes “lives”. The coach is loyal to players and reluctant to “give up” on them, especially “at-risk” athletes who have the most to gain from participating in sports.
Coaches for mastery. A positive coach coaches for mastery rather than victory, which the coach sees as a by-product of the pursuit of excellence. The coach focuses on effort rather than outcome, learning rather than comparison to others and recognizes that mistakes are an important and inevitable part of learning and encourages an environment in which players are willing to risk making a mistake. The coach is committed to becoming the best coach possible and continually seeks to improve his/her own effectiveness.
Refuses to motivate through fear, intimidation, or shame. A positive coach establishes order and discipline in a positive manner. Many coaches are positive when things are going well and the team is winning. A positive coach works to remain positive even through losing streaks. A coach recognizes that it is often when things go wrong that a coach can have the most positive impact and teach the most important lessons. Regardless of the adversity, the coach refuses to demean oneself or the players by resorting to fear, intimidation or shame. The coach always treats athletes with respect regardless of how well they perform.
Creates a partnership with players. A positive coach resists an authoritarian role in which players are conditioned to please the coach. The coach involves the team members in determining team rules. The coach recognizes that communication is the lifeblood of effective relationships and works hard to establish clear and effective two-way communication with the players. The coach seeks to win the cooperation of the players through encouragement and treats them as partners working together to achieve mutual goals.
Honors the game. A positive coach feels an obligation to the sport being coached. The coach loves the sport and shares that love and enjoyment with the players. The coach feels privileged to be able to take part in the sport. The coach respects the opponent, recognizing that a worthy opponent will push the coach and team to do their best. The coach understands the important role that officials play and strives to show them respect even when he/she disagrees with their decisions. He/She values the rich tradition of the sport and works to honor the spirit as well as the letter of its rules. A positive coach demonstrates personal integrity and would rather lose than win by dishonoring the game.